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Defense Drives Lady Vols in Win at Mississippi State, 75-48
Shekinna Stricklen

Shekinna Stricklen

Jan. 10, 2010

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Associated Press

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- There was a moment late in the first half of No. 4 Tennessee's win over Mississippi State on Sunday when Glory Johnson felt the Bulldogs sag after a long period without a substitution.

So she turned up the pressure.

"I wasn't slowing up and my teammates were running with me," Johnson said. "I think that surprised them."

Johnson had a double-double at halftime and scored 10 points during a 19-7 game-turning run to lead the Volunteers to a surprisingly easy 75-48 win over Mississippi State on Sunday. She had 12 points and 10 rebounds after playing all 20 minutes of the first half and finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds.

It was the fifth straight win for the Lady Vols (14-1, 2-0), who also got 16 from Angie Bjorklund and extended their streak in the Southeastern Conference's most lopsided series. The Bulldogs (11-5, 1-1) still haven't beaten Tennessee, dropping to 0-31 since the teams began playing in 1986.

Sunday's was among Mississippi State's most disconcerting defeat. The Bulldogs were picked to finish as high as third in the SEC this year, but didn't show any punch against the league's top team. The Bulldogs upset Vanderbilt (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) just four days ago, but never threatened Tennessee, trailing by as much as 32.

"I am very, very, very, very, very disappointed relative to work ethic," Mississippi State coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "For those of you that are from our area here, we let you down in a big way just relative to character and class in the way we normally play, and we're going to strive to coach better and these girls are going to strive to play better. I say that because we expect to win."

The Lady Vols caught the Bulldogs off guard almost immediately, though, when they opened up in a 2-3 zone for just the second time in coach Pat Summitt's career. The coach prefers man-to-man defense, but has shown a willingness to change this season and her hunch paid off.

"I was watching film last night before I went to bed," Summitt said. "I just decided we were going to open up in a zone because we are so long and rangy."

Tennessee stuck with zone and a 2-2-1 press much of the game and Mississippi State never came off the perimeter. The Bulldogs shot just 25.9 percent from the floor in the first half, missing 16 of their first 22 shots and 20 total, before finishing at 28.1 percent (18 of 64) -- the lowest of the season.

They also missed 22 of 30 3-point shots.

"I think it kind of scared them a little bit because they weren't able to penetrate and kick out the 3," Bjorklund said.

Johnson helped break the game open late in the first half during that 19-7 run with a personal 8-2 spurt against Mississippi State that included four layups, two rebounds and more energy than Summitt's seen from her.

"Glory Johnson today, she just played within herself and that was her best ballgame of the year on both ends of the floor," Summitt said.

 

 

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